2 months ago 💘 for day 139, 2020 with 314 words.

What Works in Self Improvement

I’ve been regularly trying to make various changes for at least a couple of years now. I’ve tried a wide variety of self-improvement resources, and I’ve had wildly varying success. What have I found to work?

Of all the usual adjectives that are thrown around regarding behavior change efforts, I think achievable is the most important. I think people often just don’t start small enough. That’s been my number one mistake. It was only reading the book Tiny Habits that got the “start small” message to take, and got me to scale down my targeted habit to the point that it reliably fit into my daily routine. The habit was doing some kind of workout every day. And the scaled down version was ten push-ups and ten-second plank every morning.

The other quality of Tiny Habits that led me to actually acting on its ideas was the warm, friendly, kind tone. Self improvement resources can often be intimidating. You read about someone who runs 5 miles every morning and you just can’t see yourself doing it. Or maybe you try and fail and now you’re more discouraged than ever.

But Tiny Habits emphasizes not beating yourself up.This is so important. It encourages you to forgive your failures and keep pushing forward. That the most important part is showing up. This is kind of a cliché, but it can hardly be overemphasized.

So the keys are that the targeted behavior change is achievable and that you are patient with yourself in pursuing it. And then you can scale up the behavior over time. You can gradually add to your morning pushups. You’ll be happy with your efforts at each point along the way, but also excited about the prospect of further progress. So you’ll keep going. And that’s all that matters.


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By Coleman Foley


Software engineer, interested in methods and tools for living better.

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